The Stuart Crawford-trained Killyglen is well on the way to returning to Aintree for the John Smith’s Grand National on April 14, a race in which he was travelling well last year when coming to grief at a crucial stage, writes Elliot Slater.
Since crashing out at the fourth from home when a close third in pursuit of eventual winner Ballabriggs, Crawford has single-mindedly tailored the training of his 10-year-old gelding to a return visiting to Liverpool and an attempt at completing the course and proving himself against the best staying handicappers in the business. There is little doubt that his untimely departure robbed the son of Presenting of potentially finishing in the frame in last year’s renewal of ‘the world’s greatest steeplechase’, for which he was a 66/1 outsider in the Grand National betting.
This term Crawford has been keen to get race practice into his charge and he had already run four times before Christmas, but he won’t be seen now until the publication of the Grand National weights in mid-February after which he will probably be given one outing before heading to the Merseyside track. The Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster or Kelso’s Premier Chase in early-March are both possible targets for the horse who has been absent from the winner’s enclosure since scoring at the 2009 Aintree Festival when winning the Grade 2 Mildmay Novices Chase by nine-lengths when trained by the now disqualified Howard Johnson.
Although he hasn’t won since, Killyglen has run a handful of good races, going close against Wogan in the 2010 Grimthorpe Chase and also running a fine race when third on his penultimate outing this term in the Haydock staying handicap chase won by Cappa Bleu in November. Ideally suited by decent ground, Killyglen is likely to get his optimum conditions at Aintree and is generally on offer at ante-post odds of 33/1.